UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

anthropological framework for the study of gambling Stuart, Ronald Courtney


The systematic study of gambling has not been undertaken by many anthropologists. Yet, there exist data within the ethnographic literature of native North America to warrant serious comparison of gambling practices. This thesis attempts to formulate an anthropological framework, for the study of gambling. The Implications of an anthropological framework are examined by isolating the variables to be considered. Generally they fall into two broad fields, symbols or symbolic complexes and politico-economic institutions or power relations. The perspective of anthropology concerns both these fields and the relationship between them. This perspective is termed holistic and it is proposed to study gambling holistically. A definition of gambling is enunciated. The properties of gambling as an institution are discussed and variables are isolated, including the distinction deep play/shallow play. The possibility of treating gambling as a cultural text to be interpreted is suggested. Five cases of hand game gambling in North America are examined in terms of the framework. Certain common features are demonstrated and the consequences of studying gambling are considered. Conclusions are presented in order to summarize the analysis of five cases and to assess the applicability of the framework

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